fbpx
skip to Main Content
Japan Walking And Culinary Tour

Japan Walking and Culinary Tour

Japan Walking and Culinary Tour

HIGHLIGHTS

Tokyo, Nakasengo Trail, sake tasting, UNESCO World Heritage sites

FROM

NZ$11,498

DURATION

16 Days

Why choose this trip?

Japan is a country where the modern and the traditional sit hand in hand. This trip takes us on a journey of discovery. First we learn about the food culture of Japan, exploring the ancient traditions and begin to understand the relationship the Japanese have with the land. Next we travel to the Nakasendo Trail. The trail linked Kyoto to Tokyo during Japan’s feudal period. It was the ‘road through the mountains’ travelled by feudal lords and their retinues, samurai, merchants, and travellers. From the Nakasendo we continue to the ancient capital Nara. Now a UNESCO world heritage site, Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan, long before Tokyo. Our final destination is Kyoto. Like Nara, Kyoto served as Japan’s capital from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and as such was her spiritual and cultural capital as well as her political centre.

*** There may be slight changes to the 2021 itinerary.

What’s the Activity level?

For maximum enjoyment of this holiday, you should be relatively fit and able to comfortably walk 3-4 hours on hilly terrain. The trails are around 3 to 14km long as detailed in the day by day itinerary and can be stoney in places, so sturdy hiking shoes with good tread are recommended. This is not purely a walking tour, as the cuisine and local culture are also a focus of this trip. But being able to comfortably do the included walks, will greatly add to your enjoyment of this journey.

What’s the transport and accommodation like?

Be prepared to travel on a variety of transport from bus and planes to taxi and  vans. We will also stay in a variety of accommodation types: Modern western-style hotels are used, along with Ryokan and Minshuku (traditional Japanese style inns) and 1 night in a Shukubo (lodging in a Buddhist temple).  If you enjoy unique journeys and look forward to special experiences, this will be the trip of a lifetime.

*All our tours are non-smoking

TRIP SUMMARY

Duration: 16 days
Trip focus: A moderately active sightseeing trip exploring rural Japan
Accommodation: 7 nts hotels, 7 nts Ryokans/Onsens, 1nt Shukubo (pilgrim lodging)
Transport: Bus, train, van and taxi
Group size: Maximum 14 + S.E.T. tour leader, Minimum 10
Single supplement: NZ$1,426 (guaranteed in hotels only)
Operator: This tour is run by one of our trusted local partners

WHAT’S INCLUDED:

  • 15 nights accommodation
  • Group arrival transfer
  • All breakfasts and other meals specified on the itinerary
  • Bilingual local guide and English speaking SET guide throughout
  • Entrance to museums, temples and other sightseeing included in the itinerary
  • Tea ceremony
  • All transfers mentioned in itinerary
  • 1 suitcase or bag per person, transferred on days identified above (under LUGGAGE)
  • Rail ticket from Kyoto to Tokyo Narita Airport
  • All taxes

WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:

  • International flights and airfare taxes
  • Travel insurance, this in compulsory in order for you to take part
  • Meals and drinks not listed in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to museums, temples etc not included in the itinerary
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • All items of a personal nature: laundry, drinks, souvenirs etc

All prices are approximate and subject to currency fluctuations until final payment has been made.

DAY 1 – ARRIVE IN TOKYO

On arrival into Narita International Airport, your guide will meet you and a group transfer has been pre booked to take you to your accommodation. After check in, we’ll head out into the city’s exciting streets for a welcome dinner.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: Welcome Dinner

(We recommend travel on Air New Zealand flight NZ99. Departs Auckland at 8.50am, arrives Tokyo at 4.50pm)

DAY 2 – SIGHTSEEING IN TOKYO

Our first full day in Japan will be spent on a walking tour of Tokyo, starting with a journey to Tsukiji Outer Market. We travel to Asakusa this afternoon. Asakusa is an old quarter in Tokyo’s shitamachi (‘low city’) which still displays some narrow streets reminiscent of Edo period Tokyo. In the evening your tour guide will be on hand to offer suggestions for restaurants for dinner.

Accommodation: Shiba Park Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: Welcome Dinner

DAY 3 – TRAVEL TO KANAZAWA

We catch the train for Kanazawa on the Japan Sea coast. For lunch we visit the local food market Oomi Ichiba, “Kanazawa citizens’ kitchen pantry”. In the evening we taste the local specialty Kaga-ryori for dinner. Kaga-ryori uses the freshest local seafood and vegetables served on colourful Kutani porcelain, or on lacquerware made in Ishikawa Prefecture.

Accommodation: ANA Crowne Plaza (or similar)
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 4 – FORAGING EXPERIENCE IN GOKAYAMA

Today we travel from Kanazawa to Gokayama, a World Heritage Site with distinctive Gassho-zukuri farmhouses sporting triangular thatched roofs which are unique to this part of Japan. We join local plant hunter Ms Ueda, to explore the surrounding mountains and harvest seasonal wild delicacies. We visit the home of local resident Mr. Nakanishi, who grows a special variety of rice for brewing Sake. Villagers will show us how to cook our finds from the mountains to produce delicious local dishes.

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run guesthouse)
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

DAY 5 – MORNING SIGHTSEEING IN SHIRAKAWA-GO, ONWARD TO TAKAYAMA

After a traditional Japanese breakfast, we depart to visit nearby Shirakawa-go, which has its own impressive collection of Gassho-zukuri houses and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. After lunch in Shirakawa-go, we continue onwards to Takayama, nestled in the mountainous Hida region. This evening, sit down to a multi-course Kaiseki dinner at our family-run Ryokan. Kaiseki cuisine is the ultimate style of Japanese food, and both the preparation methods and appearance are refined.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 6 – CLASSIC EARTH OVEN COOKING EXPERIENCE IN HIDA FURUKAWA

Today, we take a short ride to Hida Furukawa. Entering one of the oldest Machiya traditional residences, a local grandmother will show us the technique of cooking in a classic earth oven known as an “Okudo-san” which is rarely used in modern times. After lunch, we have time to explore the town and taste Sake at the local brewery, which produces the finest Sake in the region. Upon arrival into Takayama, we’ll have time to explore and the evening free to choose one of the fantastic local restaurants.

Accommodation: Ryokan (Travellers Inn)
Meals included: Breakfast and Lunch

DAY 7 – HIKE THE KAMIKOCHI WETLANDS

We leave Takayama this morning and begin the hiking portion of the trip. We travel to the biodiverse wetlands of Kamikochi. Our hike today is gentle and gives us the chance to enjoy our surroundings. After the hike we travel to our Onsen Ryokan for the evening.

Walking distance: 10.2km or shorter option of 3.2km
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 3-4hrs or 1.5hrs

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn) close to Matsumoto
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 8 – HIKE FROM KISO-HIRASAWA TO NARAI

This morning we travel to Kiso Hirasawa where we’ll start our short walk to Narai. Kiso-Hirasawa is known for its locally produced lacquerware. There may be a chance to see the craftsmen at work. Stay in Narai, a beautifully-preserved post town.

Walking distance: 2.5km
Elevation gain: Negligible ascent and descent
Time required: 1 hour

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 9 – HIKE FROM NARAI TO KISO-FUKUSHIMA

We leave the beautiful post town of Narai this morning and begin our walk over the evocative Torii pass. From here, we continue onto Yabuhara and board a trail to Kiso-Fukushima. Our accommodation for this evening is a lovely traditional Ryokan with its own natural hot spring.

Walking distance: 6.2km
Elevation gain: 270m ascent; 344m descent
Time required: 3 hours

Accommodation: Onsen Ryokan (Hot-spring Travellers Inn)
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 10 – HIKE FROM KISO-FUKUSHIMA TO TSUMAGO

We transfer from Kiso-Fukushima to Nojiri and then by a short ride to the Nenoue-Toge pass. We walk along a lovely section of the Nakasendo Trail through delightful small settlements and rice fields to Tsumago or the nearby hamlet of O-Tsumago. Only a few decades ago, Tsumago was neglected and falling into disrepair, but through concerted efforts by its residents it has been saved and restored.

Walking distance: 14km
Elevation gain: 344m ascent; 723m descent
Time required: 4.5 hours

Accommodation: Minshuku (Family-run Guesthouse)
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 11 – HIKE FROM TSUMAGO TO MAGONE, AND ONWARDS TO NARA

From Tsumago we walk to Magome, our last stop in the Kiso Valley. The trail from Tsumago to Magome is the most beautiful and best-preserved part of the Nakasendo Trail. There will be time to eat lunch in Magome and explore the many small shops along the picturesque main street. We will travel by regular train and then Bullet Train to Kyoto, connecting onwards to Nara, where we check in to our western-style hotel.

Walking distance: 8.3km
Elevation gain: 430m ascent; 326m descent
Time required: 3 hours

Accommodation: Hotel Fujita Nara (or similar)
Meals included: Breakfast

DAY 12 – SIGHTSEEING IN NARA

In Nara, we have a guided walk in the morning. Many of Japan’s greatest cultural treasures are concentrated in and around the city, with eight UNESCO World Heritage sites. We will visit two of these World Heritage sites, Kasuga Taisha Shrine and Todaiji temple – its Daibutsu-den is the largest wooden building in the world, housing a 16-metre tall image of the Rushana Buddha in bronze and gold. There will be some free time to relax, visit a Japanese garden or wander through the old town.

Accommodation: Hotel Fujita Nara (or similar)
Meals included: Breakfast

DAY 13 – TRAVEL BY TRAIN TO SPIRITUAL MOUNT KOYA

We take the scenic train to Mount Koya, situated in a bowl-shaped valley filled with stands of cedar trees high in the mountains of the Kii Peninsula. We stay in one of the temples and dine on shojin-ryori Buddhist vegetarian cuisine. We visit Kongo-buji temple and walk through the vast Okuno-in cemetery. Tomorrow morning, there is an opportunity to rise early and join the Buddhist morning service.

Accommodation: Shukubo (Pilgrims Lodging)
Meals included: Breakfast and Dinner

DAY 14 – TRAVEL TO KYOTO, TEA CEREMONY

We take the train to Kyoto and check into our hotel. Upon arrival we will learn a little bit more about the Japanese concept of Ikigai, or “reason for being” when we take part in the ancient traditions of tea ceremony. In the evening, we enjoy a walk in Gion, Kyoto’s geisha district and there is the possibility of seeing a geiko (fully-fledged geisha) or maiko (apprentice geisha) making their way through the narrow streets.

Accommodation: Enso Ango Tomi II Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: Breakfast

DAY 15 – MORNING SIGHTSEEING IN KYOTO, AFTERNOON FREE. FAREWELL DINNER

There is a guided half-day walking tour this morning. We first visit the Sanjo-ohashi Bridge, the western end of the Nakasendo Trail. We continue to Nanzenji, a tranquil Zen Buddhist temple whose history dates back to the mid 13th century. We then stroll along the Philosopher’s Path, with craft shops, cafes, shrines and temples beside the clear waters of a small canal. The path ends near Ginkakuji, the Silver Pavilion. There is free time in the afternoon so you can explore the area further or shop for crafts. In the evening, there is a Farewell Dinner with your guide.

Accommodation: Enso Ango Tomi II Hotel (or similar)
Meals included: Breakfast and Farewell Dinner

DAY 16 – TRAVEL TO TOKYO FOR DEPARTURE FLIGHT

Your tour ends after breakfast. Today you will board the bullet train back to Tokyo and on to the airport for your journey home.

Meals included: Breakfast

(We recommend travel on Air New Zealand flight NZ90, departing Tokyo at 6.30pm, arrives Auckland at 6.30am (following morning))

TESTIMONIALS

TrainSightseeingCultural ExperiencesNatureFood and CookingPlaneHiking

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Visit Kanazawa’s local food market which has attracted residents and visitors for almost 300 years
  • Learn the art of earth-oven cooking with a 70-year old grandmother in Hida-Furukawa and visit a locally-run sake brewery in Takayama
  • Hunt for wild vegetables (Sansai) with a Sansai expert and learn traditional cooking methods with the Gokayama community
  • Enjoy an exclusive Kaiseki dinner produced by a master chef with three decades of experience
  • Village to village walking on the loveliest parts of the old Nakasendo Trail
  • Stay in monastery lodgings in the temple town of Mount Koya
  • See the exquisitely-preserved villages of Narai, Tsumago and Magome

DATES

Start Date End Date Availability Cost
8th Oct 2020 23rd Oct 2020 FULLY BOOKED NZ$11,498
21st May 2021 5th Jun 2021 AVAILABLE TBC
Back To Top